Abortion bill not finalised yet

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

The parliamentary standing committee on gender equality, social development and family affairs stated that the abortion bill is still in progress.

Despite three petitions submitted to the National Assembly in 2020, advocating for reforms to the Abortion and Sterilisation Act No 2 of 1975, definitive action is yet to be taken.

The committee chairperson, Gotthard Kasuto, stated that the bill’s finalisation is pending, and consultations are scheduled for next week.

“The abortion bill is not yet finalised. The committee will meet next week to discuss the bill’s completion. We are only left with consultations with the tertiary institutions and the Khomas region and benchmarking,” said Kasuto.

Under the current law, abortion is strictly prohibited in Namibia except in circumstances where it is deemed necessary to preserve the life or physical or mental health of the mother or in cases of rape and incest.

Abortions in Namibia are only performed solely by authorised medical personnel at approved medical facilities. Any form of advertising abortion services or aiding illegal abortions is also prohibited by law.

In a recent incident earlier this month, the lifeless body of a newborn baby was discovered at the Walvis Bay municipal dump site. The discovery was made by a local sub-contractor conducting work at the site, who promptly alerted the authorities upon finding the infant’s remains amidst the rubbish.

According to Erongo regional crime investigations coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Erastus Iikuyu, the police responded swiftly to the report, recovering the infant’s body and transferring it to Walvis Bay State Hospital for certification. The body was subsequently transported to the police mortuary for a post-mortem examination.

The 2020 petition to legalise access to abortion gained more than 60,000 signatures.

It not only aimed to amend laws on abortion, but it also demanded improved access to education on abortion and sexual health and reproductive rights, as well as the implementation of counselling and support services for women to make informed decisions regarding their bodies.

The petition organisers quoted former late president Hage Geingob, who in 2019 recognised the high abortion-related death rates as a clear outcome of illegal abortions, which will continue to occur if laws are not amended.

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